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Next Stop on Artist Cyprien Gaillard's Unsentimental American Road Trip: L.A.'s Hammer Museum

Untitled (National Geographic), 2012. Copyright Cyprien Gaillard.

Courtesy of Sprueth Magers Berlin London.

Just one month after the closing of "The Crystal World," Cyprien Gaillard's first solo New York show at MoMA PS1, the 32-year-old French artist is mounting a second American exhibition at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles (April 20-August 4), proving that after being shown in several major European museums (Centre Georges Pompidou, the Kunstalle Basel, the Hamburger Banhof, Kassel, and the 54th Venice Biennale, to name just a few) over the past several years, he will make his mark in the U.S. in 2013.

Like "The Crystal World," Gaillard's self-titled West Coast show will investigate how historic monuments and centuries-old landscapes have been affected by mankind. The picture isn't always pretty, but Gaillard prefers it that way. In a 2009 interview, he remarked how most people "will fall for nostalgia and think how great the monument or place was before man ruined it. But I say no. It's never been this beautiful, and we have to love it now, at this moment . . . True love comes after that; before that it is only a blind love."

CyprienGaillard_polaroid_Details.jpeg

Westwod Cracks (Ice Age), 2012. Copyright Cyprien Gaillard.

Courtesy of Sprueth Magers Berlin London.

Most of the works on view are a result of his year-long residency at the Hammer, a good amount of which he spent traveling around California "discovering hidden ruins, destroyed landscapes, and other remnants of the recent past." But instead of developing a precious road-trip diary, Gaillard took a grittier, unsentimental look at the West Coast that is, according to Hammer curator Ali Subotnick, almost anti-nostalgic.

You'll see no images of charming road-side attractions, retro highway billboards, or kitschy Southern California diner signs. Instead of fixing his gaze on the horizon, Gaillard looked down past the cloudless California sky to the split sidewalks beneath his feet. In addition to collages, sculptures, and manhole-cover rubbings, there are 12 framed Polaroids like the one pictured above. Though Gaillard has previously turned to larger and perhaps more widely recognized landmarks in his work (particularly Niagara Falls and the ancient Teotihuacÿn ruins in Mexico), when it comes to a place like Los Angeles, nothing is more monumental or definitive than the city's sprawling mass of blacktop.

—Perrin Drumm (@perrindrumm), associate Web editor at Details

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Images courtesy of Sprueth Magers
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